LAS VEGAS – Computer Associates International Inc. has overhauled its channel program in an attempt to gain more marketshare in the mid-market.

Gone are the low rebates and the tiered level reseller plans. In its place are significantly higher rebates and a framework that will take into

account business plans for not just VARs but consultants, independent software vendors, enterprise solution providers, OEM partners and system builders.

Also, CA’s direct sales organizations will no longer compete with partners and will be compensated for pushing products through the channel.

Called the CA Channel Partner Program, it is a no fee plan that will break up all CA partners into two groups: premier and affiliate.

Currently in Canada, there are 34 premier CA partners and 1,500 affiliate partners. Doug McLaren, regional manager channel sales for CA, expects the plan will grow the number of premier partners significantly in the next 12 months mainly from the affiliate partner base, while the affiliate partner growth rate will remain relatively flat.

Part of the reason for this new plan revolves around CA’s slumping product sales in the U.S. However, CA Canada’s channel sales have performed better overall compared to North America, McLaren said.

McLaren would not disclose how much this new partner program will grow CA’s business in the next 18 months. He did say that CA is looking to deliver US$750 million in qualified leads in North America. The Canadian portion of that growth goal is $60 million.

Nick Foster, vice-president of marketing for Toronto-based Softchoice, believes this new plan, with its high rebates, will help steer more VARs to move more CA product than before.

“These percentages are good and better than most competitive programs,” Foster said. “More importantly it is a new wind or energy from CA to the channel. Before there was confusion about whether CA thought the channel was an important thing. Confusion is allowed to fester inside the sales organizations and they are allowed to be confused about whether the channel is important.

What you end up with is our sales people struggling with the local CA salesperson and eventually you just go and find something that is easier and simpler to sell because there is no confusion,” Foster added.

Softchoice is targeting a grow rate for CA products to be more than 33 per cent in order to make the CA rebate goals. But, he expects it to be a lot higher and may even hit 150 per cent given the North American growth rates of other software companies, Foster said.

Premier partners such as Softchoice must earn $50,000 or more during the fourth quarter of the previous CA fiscal year. From their quarterly rebate, goals will be 20 per cent for Q1, 25 per cent for Q2, 35 per cent for Q3 and 45 per cent for Q4.

For example, if a premier reseller sold $350,000 worth of BrightStor, eTrust and AllFusion products during the second quarter that reseller will get a rebate payout of $38,500.

Affiliate partners, on the other hand, can qualify by earning less than $150,000 during the previous CA fiscal year. These resellers need only earn US$35,000 a quarter to hit rebates as high as 10 per cent.

For example, if this reseller sold $41,500 in CA product for the quarter he would get a rebate payout of $3,090.

“We are doing this to gain more marketshare,” said Ira Simon, vice-president of North American channels for CA. “We are going to make it more compelling and we know it is unrealistic to say that you will abandon all vendors for us. But we will give you more margins that will put you ahead of the competition.”

CA is also eliminating the paperwork with these rebates. They have reduced its rebate forms to one sheet that will be automatically updated for partners by CA.

Also part of the re-vamped plan is an updated lead generation program. Under this plan, partners must designate a lead champion or multiple lead champions that will handle all leads.

CA admittedly will be tougher on VARs on the process of these leads. Company chairman and CEO Sanjay Kumar said in the past CA wouldn’t follow up leads, but now it will. Partners, whether they are premier or affiliate will lose those leads if they wait too long to close those deals. “Those leads cost a lot of money. We are enhancing a lot of things for partner profitability because it is all about their bottom line,” Kumar said.

Most of the leads will be generation from a newly created telesales group, made up of 400 employees based in Tampa Bay, Fla. The telesales group are fully bi-lingual for the Canadian market.

“Leads are not just leads from people who flip their business card into a fishbowl at some trade show or through direct mail,” Simon said. “These are quoted configured opportunities. By the time you get a lead, the lead will have been spoken to at least five times and received a Web seminar or a demo of the product. No one else does this.”

George Kafkarkou, senior vice-president, worldwide channel operations for CA and the architect of the new partner program, said CA has invested more than 10 figures in dollars towards the creation and maintenance of this program.

Educational programs such as online sales certification and hands-on technical training are free to the reseller.

CA’s technical support has been enhanced, while being simplified, he said. Partners in need of technical support can call 1-800-TEAM-VAR to reach a live person.

Premier partners will receive around the clock technical support for free, while affiliate partners will get technical support 12 hours a day during the business week.

Also part of the technical support package will be esupport at www.esupport.ca.com.

“We don’t make money by charging fees. We make money by selling software,” Simon said.

The program will still have MDF funds for partners who produce more than $100,000 in sales. These partners will receive three per cent back for market development funds.

CA has also built an exclusive channel Web site for this program at www.ca.com/channel.

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